February 2020 IssueLong scroll reading

Briefly Noted

By David Snowball


Effective December 31, 2019, founder Bill Nasgovitz resigned as president of the Heartland Funds and retired from its Board of Directors. He was succeeded, on January 1, 2020, by his son Will.

On December 31, 2019, founder James Oelschlager and his wife Vanita, the owners of Oak Associates, completed the transaction to sell substantially all of their ownership interest to a group led by members of their management team

A quick congratulations to Dennis Baran for being sharp-eyed and active. In December, our Elevator Talk focused on Joe Shaposhnik of the entirely-excellent TCW New America Premier Equities (TGUSX). Dennis, the author of several fine fund profiles for us, was intrigued by what he read, investigated and discovered that while all of the other TCW funds were available through the Vanguard brokerage, TGUSX was not. He poked the TCW reps who said something like “yikes!” and poked the Vanguard reps who said something like, “no problem, we just push this button.” The upshot is that TGUSX is now available with a $2,000 minimum through the Vanguard platform.

Briefly Noted . . .


Effective February 28, 2020, the redemption fee for the Fort Pitt Capital Total Return Fund (FPCGX) will be removed.

Effective as of February 10, 2020, Emerald Growth Fund (FFGRX) will reopen to new investors.

On June 29, 2012, PGIM Jennison Health Sciences Fund (PHLAX) closed to most new investors. On February 24, 2020, the fund’s A, C, R, Z, and R6 shares will be reopened to new investors.

The Redwood Funds have reduced the minimum initial investment on the institutional shares of all seven of their funds to $10,000.

RiverPark Short Term High Yield (RPHYX/RPHIX) has reopened to all investors.

CLOSINGS (and related inconveniences)

Driehaus Emerging Markets Growth Fund (DREGX) will close to new investors immediately after 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time on February 28, 2020. It’s a $1.8 billion, five-star fund that has pretty much crushed its peers over the past two decades: its 11.3% annual return beats its peers by 3.9% annually and is the third-best among all diversified EM funds. The fund is distinguished by solid risk management, which is not usually the hallmark of Driehaus funds.

It also appears that Janus Henderson Small Cap Value (JDSAX) will close on February 28, 2020. The phrase in the SEC filing is that, as of that date, “Sales to new investors have generally been discontinued.” It has earned the Great Owl description from MFO for consistently top 10% risk-adjusted returns for the past 3, 5, 10 and 20 year periods. It has the second-highest Martin ratio and 10th highest Sharpe ratio among the 100 small-cap core funds with 20-year records. Morningstar rates it as a five-star fund with a Silver analyst rating.


Driehaus Multi-Asset Growth Economies Fund (DMAGX) became the Driehaus Emerging Markets Opportunities Fund, effective as of January 29, 2020. The fund is now ESG-screened with a flexible multi-asset EM portfolio. I’d be cautious about its Morningstar rating since they have it in the (mostly domestic) multi-alternative group.

I learned a new word! “Demerged.” As in: “the Investec Group’s asset management business is expected to be demerged from the Investec Group, and separately listed, on March 13, 2020.” The unit they’re spinning off is renamed Ninety One North America. That implicates two funds.

Current Name New Name
Investec Global Franchise Fund (ZGFIX) Ninety One Global Franchise Fund
Investec Emerging Markets Equity Fund (ZEMAX) Ninety One Emerging Markets Equity Fund

Janus Henderson Global Technology Portfolio (JAGTX) will become Janus Henderson Global Technology and Innovation Portfolio on April 29, 2020.

On or about February 14, 2020, Sage ESG Intermediate Credit ETF (GUDB) becomes Sage ESG Intermediate Term ETF. Not sure of the rationale. Generally, “credit” in a fund’s name signals an emphasis on high-yield bonds since the risk in investing in such securities is more about the firm’s creditworthiness than about interest rates. So, maybe more flexibility to pursue investment grade stuff?

WisdomTree Asset Management is moving three funds from passive to active. WisdomTree Dynamic Currency Hedged International Quality Dividend Growth Fund (DHDG) is making the move from passive to active. Effective March 16, 2020, it becomes the WisdomTree International ESG Fund (RESD), becomes actively-managed and reduces its e.r. from 0.58% to 0.30%. On the same day, WisdomTree Emerging Markets Dividend Fund (DVEM) becomes WisdomTree Emerging Markets ESG Fund (RESE) and WisdomTree U.S. Total Market Fund (EXT, formerly WisdomTree U.S. Total Earnings Fund) goes from losing to the Vanguard Total Market Index to being WisdomTree U.S. ESG Fund (RESP).


361 Macro Opportunity Fund(AGMQX) was liquidated on or about January 24, 2020.

Altegris Gsa Trend Strategy Fund (TRNAX) and Altegris Managed Futures Strategy Fund (MFTAX) will be liquidated on March 30, 2020.

ETFMG Drone Economy Strategy ETF (IFLY) becomes the completely unrelated ETFMG Cloud Upstarts ETF on March 20, 2020. That’s technically not a liquidation but, as a practical matter, anyone who bought the fund to invest in the Drone Economy (rolls eyes) is SOL.

Fidelity Advisor Event Driven Opportunities Fund will be liquidated on March 27, 2020. The Fidelity Event Driven Opportunities Fund (FARNX), on the other hand, will be reorganized into the Fidelity Low Priced Stock Fund. Thanks to Mike for asking!

On or about February 12, 2020, JHancock Disciplined Alternative Yield Fund (JTRAX) will be liquidated. Why you ask? It is “as a result of factors or events adversely affecting the fund’s ability to conduct its business and operations in an economically viable manner.” Ummm … there’s no evidence (yet) of dramatic outflows, despite the fact that the fund has trailed 70+ percent of its peers in five of the past six years, so unless “factors or events” just meant “our performance was pitiful,” it’s not clear what triggered the closing.

Lazard US Realty Equity Portfolio has had its liquidation postponed again. No word on why, but I could imagine some issue in liquidating the least liquid parts of a real estate portfolio.

MainStay Cushing Energy Income Fund, MainStay Cushing Renaissance Advantage Fund, and the Voya CBRE Global Infrastructure Fund all appear to be in the process of merging into the MainStay CBRE Global Infrastructure Fund. The receiving fund doesn’t exist just yet; it’s been created solely to receive the assets of the other funds. Dates are squishy because there have to be a lot of shareholder mailings and proxies and such. That said, May 2020 seems to be in the ballpark for the conclusion of the deal.

Pickens Morningstar Renewable Energy Response ETF (RENW), whose attempt to link an icon of “the erl bidness” with renewable energy was never all that logical, was not renewed and disappeared on January 30, 2020.

Quantified All-Cap Equity Fund (QACFX) was liquidated on January 30, 2020.

The ridiculously expensive Sirius S&P Strategic Large-Cap Allocation Fund (SSPLX) has returned just over 1% a year for the past five years; the fund’s board of trustees has decided that its demise is in “the best interests of the Fund and its shareholders.” Those interests will be advanced on February 28, 2020.

Templeton Frontier Markets Fund (TFMAX) will be liquidated (and dissolved!) on March 27, 2020. Tiny fund with returns and risk-adjusted returns that were just middlin’.

Voya Global Corporate Leaders® 100 Fund (VGDAX) and Voya SMID Cap Growth Fund (VGROX) have closed to new investors and will be liquidated on March 13, 2020.

Zacks Market Neutral Fund (ZMNVX) will be liquidated on or about February 26, 2020.

This entry was posted in Briefly Noted on by .

About David Snowball

David Snowball, PhD (Massachusetts). Cofounder, lead writer. David is a Professor of Communication Studies at Augustana College, Rock Island, Illinois, a nationally-recognized college of the liberal arts and sciences, founded in 1860. For a quarter century, David competed in academic debate and coached college debate teams to over 1500 individual victories and 50 tournament championships. When he retired from that research-intensive endeavor, his interest turned to researching fund investing and fund communication strategies. He served as the closing moderator of Brill’s Mutual Funds Interactive (a Forbes “Best of the Web” site), was the Senior Fund Analyst at FundAlarm and author of over 120 fund profiles. David lives in Davenport, Iowa, and spends an amazing amount of time ferrying his son, Will, to baseball tryouts, baseball lessons, baseball practices, baseball games … and social gatherings with young ladies who seem unnervingly interested in him.